Stripes and Fights on the Masai Mara
Long ago, Africa was very hot and all the waterholes but one dried up, which was guarded by a baboon who would not let anyone drink from it.
One day a zebra and his son came to drink and the baboon barked, “Go away. I am the Lord of this water.”
The young zebra and the baboon got in a fight, and back and forth they went, raising a huge cloud of dust, until the zebra, with a mighty kick, sent the baboon flying high in the rocks. The baboon landed on his seat, taking off all the hair.
The tired and battered young zebra, not looking where he was going, staggered backwards into the baboon’s fire which left long black scorch marks all over his white fur.
The baboon to this day holds its tail up high to ease the smarting of their rock-burned bottoms.—African fable
Behold the zebra. Still wearing the scorch marks of its ancestors. But it seems to have come to some detante with the baboon, or perhaps the zebra is too busy fighting other zebras to notice the baboons.
The baboon, however, is still an obnoxious and troublesome creature, probably because its bum is bare and that’s rather embarrassing, wouldn’t you think.?
All you have to do is watch a group of zebras and pretty soon a couple of them will start fighting, biting the other’s leg, knocking it off balance, kicking, and rearing.
You’d think a third zebra would intervene and stop the fight, because after all it is wearing the traditional black and white of a referee. But, no, ‘tis the zebra’s nature to fight and have some fun.
Some fun, fighting in that heat. Actually, though, it’s thought that the zebra’s stripes help it stay cool. Air passing over the black stripes moves faster and air over white stripes slower and the two create a convection of cooling air. Not quite like a convection oven, but you get the idea.
Zebra foals, however, can steal your heart:
|The usual view of zebras--butt first.|
Zebras can run really fast, which helps a whole bunch when lions or leopards or hyenas are inviting them to be lunch. When the guys in stripes bunch up, they appear to be a flickering mass of stripes, confusing the predator who is then unable to pick out a solitary zebra.
When attacked by wild dogs, zebras form a circle around the foals to protect them.
There are times, though, when zebras are quite well behaved and considerate. For instance, when they find a nice patch of dirt. They line up and patiently wait their turn to roll in the dust, one after the other, no one butting in line or shoving for a better position.
When a zebra is alone and a predator gives chase, the zebra runs a zigzag pattern to confuse the predator. It’s all about subterfuge, those stripes, which is something I noticed when Seattle played Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl and Seattle had to play against the zebras, too
|Zebras do, however, appreciate my jokes.|
|Here they go again.|
|Enough with the fighting, guys.|
|Zebras are in tune with their environment. A log comes in handy as a chin scratcher.|
|Or a bum scratcher.|
Zebras and Cape buffalo, along with other grazing animals, have symbiotic relationships with this bird as well as red-billed oxpeckers. The birds clean ticks and other insects from the animals.
The red-billed oxpecker subsists entirely on substances found on zebras, Cape buffalo, and other animals. Everything from mucus to ticks.
|Note how the zebra in the background tend to look gray.|
|With a Thompson's gazelle.|
|Scratching the chin on the creek bank.|
|Or the side on the other bank.|
|Zebras often rest their heads on another zebra. Kind of a "I'll watch your back, you watch mine."|
|Not yet, Little Guy.|
|Pretty soon you'll be big enough.|
|Sorry, zebra. Lilac breasted rollers trump everything else.|
|Zebras get themselves into trouble. This one has a wire snare around its neck.|
|Moses promised us the Masai Mara vets would remove it.|
|The zebras are going to bed now. Say goodbye.|